Yes Grimsby. (Not Grimb-sy). You know, that place you’ve heard of, vaguely, once on BBC News. You have no idea where it is. Apparently, it’s not in Yorkshire, but then again it’s not even in Grimsby. They play in Cleethorpes.
Grimsby Pelham FC, later Town, were formed in 1878, in a pub, like all good teams. They knocked around for 14 years before joining the Football League’s second tier, faring moderately well until the war, when they got really good for no apparent reason. They got as high as fifth in Division One, obviously the Everton of their day, and even starred in two FA Cup semi-finals, losing to Arsenal in ’36 and Wolves in ’39. Things have never been as good since.
I could make an argument here about the decline of the fishing industry affecting local employment and economy, and subsequently hampering Grimsby’s footballing prowess, but that would be bollocks – Grimsby just isn’t that big a place, and the great sides of the 30s were the exception and not the norm.
Since those heady, heady days that nobody alive can remember, Grimsby have been plodding up and down between tiers two and four, spending spells at the top end of the former (’83/84, ’92/93) and the bottom of the latter (’69/70, ’88/89) in almost equal periods. At late as ’98/99, Town were finishing 11th in the second tier under the tutelage of a certain Alan Buckley; the same Alan Buckley who guided Rochdale to near-relegation in ’02/03, no less. In that same season, the Mariners were relegated from the second tier, and haven’t returned since. It’s been a tough decade for your Grimsby fans, being as they are firmly entrenched in the bottom league.
Ah yes, last season. If Grimsby fans thought ’07/08 was bad, they had no idea how bad ’08/09 would be. Town finished 22nd, finishing lower than no less than three teams with points deductions, and only four points clear of the shockingly amatuerish Chester City. They were absolute crap up until January, after which they were only moderately crap. In the end, Luton Town’s 30-point disadvantage saved the Mariners, as well as some astute loan signings from incoming big mouth Mike Newell, though clearly Town were one of the two worst teams in the division.
They should do better. But then again, it would hard not to. Mike Newell has the contacts to bring in some decent Division Four talent, though he might not to be able to rely on the loan signings of the type he made at the end of last season. Joe Widdowson looks a good player, recently signed permanently from West Ham, and of course they have released Tom Newey (Lincoln bound incidentally) which should relieve some of the hoodoo decended over Blundell Park in recent years. However, Grimsby fans are far too knowing to get excited; they would probably be happy with mid-table as long as Newell stays.
Grimsby the place?
I’ve been to Grimsby. I won’t be going again. Unless you have an ardent fascination with the UK’s fishing industry, there really is no reason to go, but I guess you could say that about most mid-sized towns in England, Rochdale included. If you do go, wear a coat, Grimsby is really windy. As an aside, the name Grimsby is an old Viking name which means Grim’s village (Grim’s by), which is possibly the most interesting thing about the place.
Cleethorpes, the home of Blundell Park, does have some visitor attractions, consisting of a pier and the Pleasure Island ‘theme park’ (the term ‘theme park’ is used here very loosely). I went once when I was six and got covered in black insects, wearing as I was a bright yellow T-shirt. Needless to say, I’m not in a rush to go back here either.
Grimsby Town in a word?
Written by Matt Boothman on 2nd July 2009.